Stinging nettles (Urtica diocia) are a classic wild green, both nutritious & delicious. Their name may be a little off-putting, but when handled correctly, the leaves and stems of the nettle provide a tasty treat with many health benefits.
The leaves and stem of the aptly named stinging nettle are covered with fine, spine-like hairs containing a highly irritating substance, giving the plant both its sting and its name.
Caution: handle with care!
Stinging nettles have earned their name for a good reason. They sting! We recommend that you use gloves when handling fresh nettles. Don't worry about getting stung when eating nettles, though - nettles lose their sting as soon as they are cooked. Just don't try eating them fresh!
The most commonly eaten parts of the nettle are the leaves and stems. When the plant is mature, the stems are very tough and are not edible, but when the plant is young, the stems are still tender enough to eat.
Nutritional benefits: Nettles are high in vitamins A, B and C, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They are also an excellent source of protein. Because stinging nettles are a diuretic, they can be useful in cleansing and detox diets.
Cooked nettles taste wonderful when prepared simply, but they have a long history as an edible wild green and there are many traditonal recipes for this amazing and nutritious plant.
Basic preparation: Bring a large pot of salted water to a low boil. Add the nettles to the pot and blanch until they are wilted, approximately 30 seconds. Drain the nettles and plunge them into cold water. Rinse well to remove any grit, then squeeze dry to remove excess water. Your nettles can now be prepared in any number of delicious ways!